Category Archives: Love

the presence of a mother

Boy did this absolutely amazing thing for me. And the effect of this one thing he did has rippled much farther into the future than I ever anticipated.

It had become this running joke about our mothers, that after 11 years they had never met. Of course they knew more about each other than they may ever realize. My mother is obviously a key figure in my  life, and so is boy’s mother. Each has been a tremendous influence on the woman I am and the woman I have yet to become. So after all I have asked from boy – quitting his job (although it has become the longest goodbye yet), relocating to a desert, saying goodbye to our friends (do you KNOW how hard it is to make such awesome friends as an adult?) and leaving the place that holds more sentimental value than the galaxy holds stars – after all of this, he surprised me by managing to get me to the airport for a surprise visit from both his mother and my mother so they could support me at my white coat ceremony. Did I mention this happened on his birthday?

The first night they were here I went to bed in a stupor, so filled with love I tried to describe it and felt like a  babbling fool. I compared it to the realization of a mythical event. For so long I sustained from envisioning a wedding because the logistics sound like a nightmare. So having them both there to support me on my new journey into medicine was something beyond what my mind was prepared to receive. Their presence felt like a blessing on my new journey.

But here’s the unexpected echo from boy’s gesture. When my mom was here I hugged her goodnight as she came from her bath and retreated to the guest bedroom. I noted the slight perfume from her skin and the humidity from the bath tub and it brought me back, so far back, to being a little girl and finding comfort in my mother’s bed time routine.  She bathed every night, followed by the application of lotion, and then turned on the bedside light as she read prior to going to sleep. I would mark time by her routine. Sometimes I would not go to sleep until I knew that she too was in bed. Sometimes I would walk in and tell her I couldn’t sleep and she would walk me back to bed. Most of the time I would try to climb into her bed so I could spend the night feeling safest by her side. All of those nights were accompanied by the slight humidity left over from her bath and the soft scent of her lotion.

I’m 6 weeks into medical school. Even at the age of 31, this is probably one of the scariest journeys I have been on. I get stressed, lose sleep, and try to desperately reassure myself that both dog and boy are happy in the middle of the conservative desert. And sometimes, when I get too exhausted from it all, I drag my feet to the guest bedroom and lie down, not trying to feel guilty about the allowance of rest over studying. I envision that my mother is somewhere nearby and there is a gentle humidity from her bath lingering over the room. Just knowing that she slept in that room is enough to convince me that the scent of her lotion is still permeating through the hallway and into the bedroom. And I can close my eyes and find some relief from that self-critical voice that got me here, that pushes me harder, that knows exactly how hard I had to work to get here and knows that it will not end anytime soon. I fall asleep haggard with the memory of my mother’s comfort tucked into the senses of my mind and I wake up knowing that I am enough. I know that my mother will not always be here. She lost her mother when she was my age. But the shadow of her presence is so powerful that I know it will grant me a lifetime of solace.

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August 24, 2012 · 10:07 pm

My beef with Lazy Boy recliners

Boy was 30 when we met. And having heard rumors about his 20s, I was always intrigued about what they were like for him.  Since the crowd he pal’d around with were his party buddies, most of those people disappeared after we met.  I would try and ask about what those years were like for him, but have you ever asked a boy what he discussed after just hanging up the phone with someone?  Yeah, something like this:

Me: How’s your dad?

Boy: Oh fine.  Same old stuff…

What stuff?

Just playin’ his computer games.

What about your mom.

Fine.

Sister?

Fine.

Well, what’d you talk about for 30 minutes then?

Nothing in particular.

So they’re all doing nothing?

Well, pretty much, I mean my Dad had his surgery and everything.

And everything?  Having surgery is same old stuff?  Is he okay?

Yeah, he’s fine.

And so on and so on and so on for about another half an hour.  Me? I get off of the phone with my sister and without him even asking to I volunteer that my nephew pulled his underwear down and started running around while I was talking to my sister and it was frickin’ hysterical and then I sang twinkle twinkle and said the pledge of allegiance with both of them and blah blah blah because THAT is what is called COMMUNICATION.

Anyway, boy has had this imaginary friend he has spoken of since we met.  I say imaginary because for 8 years, he was exactly that.  Boy would speak of him and everytime they visited I was in New York, Paris, or a business trip – how convenient for his imaginary friend to visit during those times…  But a few weeks ago, boy said a few nights before that he was going to be in town and we were going to dinner.  I think I said “yeah right, I’ll believe it when I see it.”  Well, lo and behold, I came home and boy is on the phone giving his imaginary friend directions on where to park and I’m like “dude, seriously, it’s okay…”  And then he showed up!  See?

Terry's visit 008

He’s real!

So we all went to dinner and he left shortly thereafter, but not before I grabbed the camera to get proof.  I needed proof in case another 8 years goes by and boy still occassionally mentions this dude friend of his…

Anyway, dinner was… well… weird.  As we said good bye and boy and I walked back up the stairs, I couldn’t really place it.  I was rambling about how he didn’t meet my expectations and the comparison between boy and his friend was just odd because I couldn’t quite place it and all I could say was “He’s old!”

Boy laughed and turned to me saying “I was going to warn you of that ahead of time, but I figured you’d just see for yourself.”

This was the first time I had seen boy up against one of his peers.  Someone his own age, someone he shared late ’80s early ’90s music tastes with, someone who knew boy during the time he was dating his first girlfriend and, my, if you saw that picture of boy and his first girlfriend you would know why I am banned from asking any questions pertaining to that time in his life…  (and it wasn’t just her, I’m talking high tops, acid wash jeans, and a mullett my friends.. eeesh.)

But the hard part of the evening was topic of conversation.  Boy and I spoke about plans to keep up with what we’re doing, not caring too much about settling down here because we know we’ll be off in a few years, really wanting to get back to Hawaii soon soon soon, but not dropping big bucks and instead doing weekend jaunts.  What did boy’s friend talk about?  Moving his 2 kids and wife into their new 5 bedroom house and mowing the lawn.  A long drawn out story about mowing the lawn and the job he has had for 11 yrs (mind you, he was obviously passionate about both those things, which is nice to see for a change.)  Not boring, kind of entertaining in fact, but the bottom line?  I just could relate.  And honestly?  I didn’t want to.

I may or may not have mentioned it already, but boy is very nontraditional in what he wants out of life compared to other people his age.  And at times I have mourned that – he will always make light of proposing instead of actually doing it, we probably won’t ever have a wedding if marriage is something we decide on, if I want a settled domestic-looking place to come home to, I have to bully him into unpacking his junk boxes and hang art, not framed movie posters, on the wall.

But when I saw boy next to his friend, I remembered that I never wanted that life in the first place.  My best friend back in Louisiana told me that she felt that a man is supposed to drive a truck, so she made sure her husband had a truck.  She runs the household like a champ and in her first marriage would get up at the butt crack of dawn to make sure her husband’s coffee was made before he left for work.  I remember willing off any man who drove a truck back in 10th grade because every punk in my high school class drove exactly that.  I never wanted a house because I wanted to make sure I was able to pick up and leave on my next adventure.  I never wanted a husband either because hell if I was going to cook for anyone but myself.  It’s no wonder everyone thought I was going to be the crazy old single bitty that had 5 bajillion cats, because in the south women don’t generally aspire to live alone.  It was not something I could admit to and I felt at odds with friends and family around me for not wanting what they all had.

The funny part is, boy and I settled in quickly together after we met.  And now with Jack around, it feels like a family.  And all those things I really didn’t want, I have – weekend pancakes, once a week pasta nights, family television nights with me, boy, and Jack in between us.  The most important thing is, I have them on my own terms.  We have agreed we will never, ever, ever ever ever own a lazy boy recliner.  No one in our home will ever have to move “because that’s your father’s chair.”  Equal opportunity seating for all.  I will never be responsible for putting a meal on the table.  In fact, if boy wants a meal on the table he usually takes the lead and starts cooking.  If it were up to me?  Hummus.  Every night.  I don’t ever see us emphasizing the importance of eating dinner at the table if we have a kid.  (I don’t know anyone who actually liked forced dinner time around the table…)  We probably won’t ever own power tools that we can show off to our neighbors.  I never want the biggest weekend accomplishment to be mowing the lawn and having an ice cold beer afterward.  We will never own a bar-b-que pit or a deep freeze.  I won’t ever have mad baking skills.  Most important to me, I won’t have to ever be a stay at home mom.  Boy has gladly volunteered taking that role if we are ever in such a position.

Occasionally, when I hear about how someone spent their whole weekend baking and prepping dinners for the week or doing house projects on their vacation, I get a little pang of jealousy.  How nice it must be to own a house, to have the skills to cook, to be able to build a fence around your garden with the help of a neighbor and be friends with that neighbor and not only know him for being the guy that makes weird noises before bed keeping me awake as he paces back and forth for 50 minutes…

But when I really think about it, put myself in that life and try and fit boy and Jack in there with me, it’s like watching a kid play one of those building block learning games shove the star into the square whole.  Every now and then I put on my apron and try… I try to cook a meal that doesn’t consist of just one thing served over rice… and I usually get so frustrated with myself (I once cried over buying snow crab claws bringing them home and not knowing what to do with them in the slightested once I got them on the plate.)  But this time, with boy’s friend, I was happy with the fact he was living the suburban dream and I’m not.  And it doesn’t include a lazy boy recliner.

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easing back

Eight years ago I spent all night riding around the back roads of Pensacola and Perdido Key returning home around 5 am.  My sister lent me some of her clothes, told me how to do my hair, and then sent me on my way to my first real date (yes, you’re counting right.  my first real date at the age of 19..)  It was a night full of awkward silence broken by quips like:

“Know what that is?” he was pointing to a stain on the cloth of the passenger seat where I sat.

“umm, no…”

“Dog blood.”

He proceeded to tell me the story of the frazzled dog walking around the parking lot of a mall.  He couldn’t let the dog just roam around next to a busy street, so he pulled up near the dog and slowly lured him into his car.  Only after the dog skittishly got into the car did he notice the dog was injured and bleeding.  He drove the dog to the nearest shelter to be tended to and put up for adoption.

The drive lasted all night because that’s how long it took for us to get the courage to ask each other questions.  What are you doing here?  Where did you come from?  Where do you hope to go?  Are a you a big fan of Where the Wild Things Are or does a 30 year old wear that tee shirt because he has nothing else to wear?

We stopped at a Dairy Queen parking lot.  How southern of us.  Except this one was along Scenic Highway and overlooked the gulf.  He had a tattoo I heard about.  He rolled his eyes, kicked up his converse to the table, pulled up his jeans, rolled down his tube sock, and there he was.  The Lorax.

He explained how he eats a sandwich.  He has to hold it, take bites while never putting it down.  Because the moment he puts the sandwich down he loses interest, won’t pick it up again for another bite.  No leftovers for this guy.  The only leftover he ate was pizza that sat all night in its box on top of the stove.  How ignorant and wasteful, I thought.  Years after telling me this, he ate day-old leftovers of something I cooked.  I was more than a little proud.

He asked permission before hugging me.  I’m a stand-offish person.  Not one to openly hug friends or let them know how much they mean to me.  My chest exploded when I realized I agreed.  I didn’t know how to move, we ended up somehow in a bear hug between man friends kind of position.  I had one arm over his should and one around his waist thinking to myself how this arm position is so off and I just blew it.  The whole night lost to an awkward arm position in a hug.  But what’s with this sweater?  This ribbed sweater he’s wearing, so soft.  A year or so later I found that same sweater at the bottom of a drawer, stole it, hid it, kept it so he would never give it away.

That was it.  He drove me back to my sister’s apartment.  I had my hands stiff on the seat and probably looked like a deer in headlights because it was my first date and how can I like this dude I know nothing about and how can I know nothing about him after spending about 7 hours in a car with him.  And then I saw him reach over and grab my pinky and say that he wishes he could chop it off to have a part of me to hold when I leave town the next morning.  I had slight relief at him saying something rather disturbing to take away from my awkward hugging skills.  We were back on level ground.

I thanked him, got out of the car, walked to the door too scared to look back knowing that he was watching me, and pretended to sleep 4 hours until I got out of bed and my sister said he had already called to say good morning.

That was 8 years ago.

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the rest of what I wanted to say about my Tahoe adventure

On the train ride to the airport hours before our plane ride to Hawaii, boy turned to me and said, “you realize if we don’t have fun on this trip we’re breaking up.”  My jaw dropped to the floor before I started cracking up laughing.  Because it was so true.  Really, if you can’t have fun in Hawaii with your significant other, there’s a BIG problem.  Fortunately, we didn’t run into that problem.

Tahoe proved no different.  I’ve never felt resentment of going some place spectacular and missing out on something I thought was awesome because he wasn’t in the mood to go to the top of a mountain or go down the 2.5 mile trail one more time.  We’re good travel mates.  And if you’ve ever traveled with someone who gets whiny and in a grumpy funk over one bad meal or a lack of ability to make a decision about what to do next, then you know how nice it is to have a travel partner that matches your pace and priorities perfectly.

In between the most awesomest snowboarding, I snowshoed twice a day with Jack.  When we arrived the owners’ yellow lab, Kona, came up to the driver side door to greet us and Jack went nutso.  I think Jack thought this whole vacation was for him (you know, because that Chem and Physics final stressed him out so much.)  He hopped onto the bed right away and sprawled out before we took him on an evening romp through the snow.

I took Jack snowshoeing in the mornings by myself not so much because boy has a problem with snowshoeing as much as he has a problem with mornings (he works at 5am, so any chance he gets he sleeps in.)  I can’t explain what I like about snowshoeing without getting super excited and cheesy, so here goes…  I took over 100 pictures that first morning out there by myself.  Being out there in the woods with the snow killing all the sounds around so I all I heard was the crunch crunch of my snowshoes kept a smile on my face.  I wanted to capture the glitteryness of everything.  Jack could go anywhere he wanted but mainly stayed at my heels because he got wobbly legs where the icy surface tension wouldn’t hold him above the snow.  Maybe partly because the air was so thin, but it was so clean – a combination of which could have led to me taking pictures of the bark on trees and the frost on sticks convinced that these things are the most beautiful things EVER!  And that fungus, the stuff growing on that tree stump?!  Wow.  And then the last morning, Jack started to get a bit wiggy.  As if in staring at me, ears back, head low, tail down before turning all the way around and running back along the trail to the cabin.  I was talking out loud to him “what’s the deal, dude?  You love this!  Why are you running?”  He did it a few more times but I kept going knowing he will always follow me rather than go off by himself (I love this about Jack.  He will always come to me instead of running off, it’s a reassuring cattle dog gene.)  About an hour later when we returned I told the owner what Jack was doing and how weird it was.  His response?  “Bears.  You don’t think to look up, but there was probably a bear in a tree.  They scout out their prey from the trees.”  Umm, huh?  Shouldn’t they be in hibernation?  In any case, I so wish I would have seen one to get a picture.

In the evenings we sat in the adirondak chairs by the fire roasting s’mores while Jack and Kona did laps around the fire in between begging for marshmallows.  And you know that feeling after a vacation?  The one you want to hold on to, the lack of tension, glow in your skin, the lack of self-awareness about what my hair is doing or what I’m wearing?  Yeah, that.  I thought about it.  What I was really dreading about going back to work.  I arrived at this – I hate trying to dress nice and do my hair and look decent for the office.  What you may not realize, but my friends can testify to, is that I am extremely self-conscious.  I hate trying to look nice, I can’t put an outfit together to save my life and I hate trying to smooth out my hair (it’s frizzy folks, unless I don’t wash is for days and truth be told I mostly wash it every 3 days, if not longer.  You may think it’s gross, but I say it saves me hours of blow drying and straightening.)  I read over at Working Girl blog that advertising and marketing careers are known for being fashionable.  Not this working girl.  I’ve declared too many times that a job where flip flops and jeans are not allowed is not for me.  Am I whining?  Yes, but it’s sort of a problem.  I can get stuck in the mirror forever in the morning not satisfied, trying way too hard, afraid of being judged for not trying harder.  I sweat too much to wear fitted shirts (yeah, I don’t know why I sweat so much, just do.  Doctor’s response – it’s a sign of good health.  Tell that to my fear of raising my right arm too high in public.)  I am a tee shirt and jeans girl.  So, there.  That’s the pimple on face since I’ve been back.  It’s the self awareness that came with leaving the woods and returning to the cubicle when I don’t thing I quite belong.

And it’s the last few days of freedom before a I hunker down for Physics II and Chemistry II.  I know, you think I would get a break with getting a B in physics can all, but that was just the first half!  On to magnets and oscillations.

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going to smell the snow

candied ginger for the car ride for me: check

trail mix for the car ride for him: check

bone to chew for the car ride for Jack: check

3 days of food (and enough ginger ale to keep me burping for a month): check

Jack’s snowshoeing vest: check

movies.  tons of movies: check

completely non-intellectual and age inappropriate books (i.e. the Twilight novels I haven’t gotten to yet): check

my snow pants that I left at home last year (followed by a temper tantrum upon arrival): check

TAHOE!

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the list

I used to dig through all his stuff when we first got together.  I was eager to know everything about him, too naive to know that the process was worth savoring.  Who is this guy, where did he come from, what has he been through?  Who broke his heart in the past, whose heart did he break?  Why did he have a box full of action figures?

Seven years later, I’m not as curious.  I’ve known his daily routine for nearly four of those years.  So why would a glance through his wallet as I sat kinda bored in the bathroom surprise me?  (and who threw away all my catalogs!)

Because of a list he keeps in his wallet.  A list of things I said I liked with the items he already bought me scratched off.  Unless you know someone else who hates pigeons as much as I do and can find the irony in a canvas painting from Urban Outfitters that says “I Love Pigeons” a hysterical gift.

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lessons from the past week

  • how I feel after I take an exam is not a good indicator of how I performed on the exam.
  • contact paper, that stuff used to line kitchen cabinets and drawers, is meant to frustrate the crap out of people like me.  I spent my Saturday night measuring, cutting, sticking, peeling, unpeeling – because I couldn’t possibly let my utensils and dishes touch the bottom of a cabinet or drawer that I have yet to use.  icky.
  • regurgitation and vomiting are actually 2 different things.  Also, nothing can get me more emotionally frazzled than Jack.  Ever since moving into the new apartment Jack has been experiencing what appears to be acid reflux.  When he did a spontaneous regurgitation that seemed to surprise even him, I flipped out and called the humane society vet.  I have never liked this vet, so I got a referral to a pet hospital.  I left work to rush him over there where I was comforted so much by the professional staff.  They have doctors that specialize in neurology, radiation, acupuncture, seizures, surgery… Jack warmed up to them right away.  After finding a heart murmur (on the first visit, he’s been to the humane society at least 3 or 4 times the past year and NO ONE has ever said anything about a murmur) Jack is being monitored for one more week before we decide on whether or not to get a chest x-ray.  Worst case, pneumonia could develop if he inhales while regurgitating.  Best case, he is super sensitive to his mom’s moods and with a move and midterms, I haven’t been the most relaxed person.
  • lastly, apparently I’m not too good at sharing things.  Did I mention boy and I have moved in together after 3 years in separate places?  yup.  we did.  Why did I forget to mention this?  Probably because I’ve been super defensive and protective of what the last year has been like for us.  For good reason.  But what it amounts to is a lot of hard work put back into a relationship that’s worth having and keeping.  And this one’s for keeps.

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